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Do we need an Independant Nuclear Deterrant?

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Do we need an Independant Nuclear Deterrant?

Old 7th Oct 2010, 12:15
  #161 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by vernon99
We simply do not know what conflicts have been prevented as a result of being a member of the nuclear club. So for that reason it is a good thing to have, as I said earlier it isn't that expensive.
Do not become confused between having a nuclear strike capability and having a nuclear deterrent - they are actually subtly different things.

Having a strike capability says to the smaller players that we have the ability to deploy overwhelming force pretty much as you've said.

Having a system like Trident also says that, but more importantly it says to the big players that if they glass us we will be able to strike back and glass them. This is really an indefensible position and I don't for one second believe that we would (or if we have leaders who would, they should have the option removed from them.)

On this basis we ought to retain a nuclear capability but do not need a dedicated deterrence system (permanently deployed missile boats)
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 12:52
  #162 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by incubus View Post
I don't for one second believe that we would (or if we have leaders who would, they should have the option removed from them.)
Maggie didn't have them in the first place but I still think she would have gone for broke.
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 16:17
  #163 (permalink)  
 
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Of course, what submarine based Trident gives you is the time to take stock. A leader (if there is one left) doesn't have to make an immediate decision. He/she can look at the options. He/she can say to Iran. Hand over all those responsible or we will blame you all. Give them 24 hours.

With Trident he/she can also choose to pick the target and the yield. Maybe a single low yield warhead on a key military installation?

Back this up with none nuclear strikes from your CVF rushing to the area.
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 16:55
  #164 (permalink)  
 
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Back this up with none nuclear strikes from your CVF rushing to the area.
If they haven't been sold off to India first?
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 17:30
  #165 (permalink)  
 
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Astute

1. Give the RN a full complement of 8 Astute submarines.
2. Make a small increase in the Tomahawk order.
3. Build or purchase 64 W80 warheads, mixed yields.
Job done.
My idea..... No.
It was the budget option put forward in 1983 by David Owen as an alternative to Trident.
Less bang, but you can keep several well dispersed submarines at sea
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 18:53
  #166 (permalink)  
 
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Just one problem with the last scenario, you need to be in range of your opponent, not really a problem with Trident. But a bit of a pain if you have to wait a week for something to be in range, by that time it could be too late.....
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 19:01
  #167 (permalink)  
 
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But.....

Leaving aside the ballistic missile/cruise missile issue for a moment:

SDR (1998) said we need ten SSNs. SDR - new chapter (2004) said we need eight. That number seems to have dropped to seven. Now you want the SSNs to do the deterrent role as well normal SSN tasking?

See this RUSI article (with link to a PDF format paper) on doing it more cheaply by modifying the CASD posture.

1. A 'Normally-CASD' Submarine Force - Extend the Vanguard-class submarines, delay the start of peak spending on the renewal programme until 2019/2020 and redefine what is meant by 'CASD' to cut the fleet of boats from four to three.

2. A 'CASD-Capable' Submarine Force - Abandon CASD in normal circumstances, but maintain a credible capability to reconstitute it if required. This option could cut the fleet of successor submarines from four to two and delay peak spending until 2023/2024.

3. A 'Dual-Capable' Submarine Force - Rationalise the submarine fleet around a single model of boat, which could be used either for conventional or deterrent roles. This new model would eventually replace both Vanguard and Astute class submarines.

4. A Non-Deployed Strategic Force - A more radical option, this would abandon the UK's submarine-based nuclear deterrent, maintaining only a non-deployed arsenal. Offering the most substantial financial savings, this option would still aim to provide a guaranteed - but not prompt - ability to retaliate against future nuclear attacks.
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Old 7th Oct 2010, 19:47
  #168 (permalink)  
 
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"1. Give the RN a full complement of 8 Astute submarines.
2. Make a small increase in the Tomahawk order.
3. Build or purchase 64 W80 warheads, mixed yields."

4.The USA point out that they've signed a treaty with the Russians banning nuclear cruise missiles so no you may not put a nuke on the end of a tomahawk, either buy trident or design your own missile

if we want nukes trident's the only viable answer, do we want nukes though?
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 00:15
  #169 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by WE Branch Fanatic
Extend the Vanguard-class submarines
If, of course, the metalwork in the reactors will let you.

May the Lord be praised that the V boats were on time.

Sorry, the point you are actually making is good but some others forget history so fast.
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 08:12
  #170 (permalink)  
 
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Vernon,
The point is there would always be more than one boat at sea making us less vulnerable to a single lucky? hit. If our Int is so poor we have no notice of an impending strike then we deserve to lose.

Knowitall,
You may be right. However, someone with far more knowledge of international affairs than me tells me that if we decommission two Trident warheads for every W80 we activate, there is unlikely to be major objections.

The major problem is will the USA allow us the blueprints for these weapons?
We no longer have any way of testing
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 08:26
  #171 (permalink)  
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Here's another choice - trident itself, nil hours units. proven to work (without the sunshine package)

build a slightly bigger astute boat class with a bit bigger fin - (you see where I am going)

Insert 1 or 2 x Trident with BIG or Little payload choices

Add a team of about 6 steely eyed missile men to each boat and increase pies complement to match.

order 10 boats?? 20?? we than have a FLEET of kickass and take names subs with the deterrant dispersed aboard

Big consultancy fee please. Oh and to the nay sayers I seem to recall seeing a ducmentary about the astute being a modular build.

Q.E.D.
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 10:11
  #172 (permalink)  
 
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The FT are reporting that discussions are underway with the French regarding some form of joint nuclear deterrent. Interesting idea.
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 12:38
  #173 (permalink)  
 
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The FT are reporting that discussions are underway with the French regarding some form of joint nuclear deterrent. Interesting idea.
How is this an INDEPENDENT nuclear deterrent, what do we do if the French are pals with an aggressor? We may as well not bother and hope we can count on NATO to support us?

Or maybe we should approach other NATO members and offer them our deterrent, we could lease launch tubes, in a kind of timeshare arrangement, they pay in return they get a missile at sea?
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Old 8th Oct 2010, 15:03
  #174 (permalink)  
 
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Come on, it doesn't take that much imagination to think of a way this could work - joint development costs, co-ordination of patrols (if only to prevent expensive collisions), each of us having our own complement of boats/missiles to do with as we please etc.

As for NATO, well perhaps we ought to start being as circumspect regarding our participation as the French are, given recent experiences.
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Old 10th Oct 2010, 14:30
  #175 (permalink)  
 
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A few more thoughts (in no real order):

1. Some of the posters here seem to think that deterrence does not work - but fail to say why. BHR outlines possible scenarios for nuclear weapon use - yet fails to mention the possibility that an attack was prevented by deterrence. The evidence suggests that it does work - consider Saddam's Hussein's decision not to use chemical or biological weapons in 1991. As I mentioned before there was a programme on BBC1 in 1996 in which one of his Generals (who had defected) said as much.

2. If you think nuclear deterrence does not work, then presumably you dismiss non nuclear deterrence Again the evidence suggests that it does work - in 2003 Saddam's air force covered itself in sand and not glory, no doubt thinking of all the USAF, USN, RAF, and RAAF fighters that they would face.

3. Where exactly does the figure of 100 billion that you hear come from?

4. What are the geopolitical implications of not proceeding, or proceeding with a less capable/survivable system? In the Cold War, possession of nuclear weapons by the UK and France helped dissuade the USA and USSR from fighting World War Three in Europe. They also were to dissuade the (West) Germans from developing their own nuclear capability, which would have be seen as provocative by Moscow?

5. Despite what some parts of the media tell you, nuclear weapons are hard to develop or build. It is very unlikely that terrorists or other non state groups could do this without the help of a nation state, not only would this generate intelligence warnings, but it would provide an opportunity for the nation involved to be stopped. In any case, analysis of any explosion and the fallout should give clues as to the makeup of the weapon and the source of the fissile materiel.

6. What are the political and technological spin-offs from possession of a)a nuclear deterrent, b)a SLBM system, and c)a US sourced missile system?
Some of the technologies and other areas of expertise at AWE, for example, have been applied to other scientific problems and helps our national technological base. Use of a US missile involves scientific exchanges, and access to certain technical facilities. Intelligence sharing is another benefit.

Some of the equipment developed for the V boats was later fitted to other submarine classes, and in some cases, surface ships. The Devonshire Dock Hall at Barrow in Furness was built to build the V boats, but is now being used to build the Astute SSNs. I believe it was also used to build the LPDs Albion and Bulwark. The facilities built to support the V boats at Devonport and Faslane are used to support all UK submarines. Likewise things such as submarine communications facilities.

7. To the best of my knowledge, the four V boats are the only units dedicated EXCLUSIVELY to the deterrent role. However, having SSBNs may help dissuade politicians (current or future) from cutting assets that may support them at times, such as frigates, SSNs, Nimrods or others. None of these are dedicated to supporting the deterrent - yet there is danger that losing or reducing the deterrent will cause them to be cut.

I know it's going off topic - but this article from the Mail is worth a read: Five days aboard one of Britain's silent warriors, the submarine HMS Talent
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Old 11th Oct 2010, 00:53
  #176 (permalink)  
 
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In the Cold War, possession of nuclear weapons by the UK and France helped dissuade the USA and USSR from fighting World War Three in Europe.

How or why did that dissuade the USA from doing anything? Are you saying that the UK gooberment hinted that it would nuke the USA if things didn't go Britain's way?
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Old 11th Oct 2010, 08:07
  #177 (permalink)  
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ME, that is one way of reading what was said, but if you read it more intelligently you would see that it did indeed help deter a nuclear war between USA and USSR.
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Old 11th Oct 2010, 09:50
  #178 (permalink)  
 
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Pontius Navigator. Am I right in thinking that you meant that the early US and Soviet thoughts and preparation for tactical nuclear weapons became unattractive by having strategic weapons in the hands of "theatre residents"?
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Old 11th Oct 2010, 10:05
  #179 (permalink)  
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How or why did that dissuade the USA from doing anything?
The scenario was that, under Flexible Response, the Soviets and the Americans might get involved in a fighting war in Europe, up to and involving the use of tactical nukes, but staying below the strategic weapon level by tacit mutual agreement.

However, the UK deterrent used/uses the same missiles as the US deterrent and patrols in the same mid atlantic zones.

What has to be considered under this scenario is that if the UK were hit by Soviet tactical nuclear weapons, they would respond on Russia with a Polaris launch (Moscow Option). Not being able to distinguish this from a US launch and possible decapitation first strike, the Soviets would have to launch - triggering a full scale exchange.

Basically, the UK had the possibility of triggering a full scale exchange, therefore both major powers had an incentive to, at worst, stay non-nuclear and, as it turned out, not fight at all.

Last edited by ORAC; 11th Oct 2010 at 13:12.
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Old 11th Oct 2010, 13:11
  #180 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by WE Branch Fanatic
1. Some of the posters here seem to think that deterrence does not work - but fail to say why. <snip>

2. If you think nuclear deterrence does not work, then presumably you dismiss non nuclear deterrence <snip>
Just addressing those 2 points.

Deterrence is based on the existence of a credible threat.

There is no point in threatening retaliation with our orbital mass-driver because we don't have one and everybody knows we don't have one. It isn't a credible threat.

While we do have nuclear weapons, I believe that the majority of nations and organisations feel that we would be extremely unlikely to use them, therefore the threat is not credible unless we demonstrate our willingness.

The use of our conventional forces is credible and their effectiveness and our willingness to use them has been demonstrated regularly over a long period of time. I don't know how effective a deterrent it is though and we may never know.
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